Selsey councillor explains reasons for resignation after Mugabe comment

111872_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Life Boat station, Selsey.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-777) ENGPPP00120110622125737
111872_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Life Boat station, Selsey.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-777) ENGPPP00120110622125737

A COUNCILLOR has explained his reasons for resigning after a remark he made about Robert Mugabe appeared in the Observer.

John Hiscock spoke about the neighbourhood plan at last week’s Selsey Town Council meeting, where two large-scale developments were being discussed. His comments were reported in the Observer last week (August 21).

He said the council should not be using a neighbourhood plan where just one per cent of people in the town got involved.

“To me that is a working majority for Robert Mugabe,” said Mr Hiscock. “This is not democracy.”

After four complaints from councillors, he was called in for a meeting with the chairman of the council to discuss the remarks.

An article then appeared in the Observer, after which he resigned from his position on the council.

Mr Hiscock wrote the following letter to the Observer:

THE aim is to try and correct any misunderstanding over my contribution at the Selsey Town Council planning meeting on August 13, where applications were discussed for Landlink and Pye.

The contributions I made were overshadowed by my reference to Mugabe.

Politically naive remark? In hindsight, YES.

I wanted to draw attention to the low survey return and how this would be used in the neighbourhood plan.

Some colleagues were upset and I subsequently met the Selsey Town Council chairman and I suggested I would put before them my continuing position as vice-chairman (planning) and go to a full council meeting if required.

However, on Thursday I was disheartened to see the Chichester Observer article and subsequent picture of Uncle Bob, thus being fairly honourable, decided I had to resign.

What should be remembered is the increase in both these developers’ aspirations may still not count towards the amount set by Chichester District Council for Selsey and this in part was my question to Michael Fletcher (Landlink Estates) to see if any land opposite their proposed development, where hedgerows have been planted are earmarked for future development?

We have the same issues with us time after time, B2145, medical facilities, schools, flooding, changes to designations of flood zones, settlement boundary changes and other issues which should be challenged for further information.

Reading through the consultee replies to these applications, they see no problems except possibly sewage disposal.

I wanted, as I explained to the chairman, to expand on these issues, however this cannot be.

I would urge people who have not done so to read the National Planning Policy Framework and all the information regarding the neighbourhood plan from the Selsey Town Council website and form an opinion.

Planning can be an emotive issue, will we really achieve localism as described? Is it out of our hands really?

Do we accept the housing numbers imposed as correct?

Do we lose forever green land? Do we make the wrong decisions and see a village changed forever?

If there is such a thing as a cynical pragmatist, I own up to this with no offence meant to either group. The debate goes on, that is democracy.